I am a Physician and Surgeon and have lived in Merritt since 1980.
I have read the Preliminary Report on electoral boundary redistribution, including your rationale pertaining to the changes proposed for the Southern Interior. Your work is extensive. I offer you my support for the changes you propose for Hope and Princeton. I visit the community of Hope 10 X more than any recent visits to Princeton for business and social calls.
It is abundantly evident there is no common “community interest” or “more effective representation” for the residents of Hope and the surrounding area within the electoral boundaries of Chilliwack-Hope. Instead, it is the opposite: that being attached to Chilliwack the residents of Hope and the Fraser Canyon actually receive the bad bargain when it comes to government attention, programs and funds for projects. The only time the Hope area ever received large grants for projects and programs was when it used to be a part of the former constituency of the Yale-Lillooet district – i.e., the Fraser-Hope Bridge, the Hope Library/Pool Complex and the Low-Income Housing units come to mind.
Chilliwack is a very large urban centre in the middle of a development boom and a fast-growing population. Hope and the Fraser Canyon, like its counter-part Fraser-Nicola communities, is suffering from job losses due to a shrinking resource sector and the massive cuts to public services in rural BC, namely health care, education, policing, and other public services. Hope is right at home in Fraser-Nicola, which contains similar-sized, rural, resource-based communities. It was political interference from the BC Legislature that, unfortunately, put Hope into Chilliwack in the first place. In my line of work I have travelled extensively all across the Southern Interior, the Fraser Valley and the Lower Mainland. There are huge differences between larger urban centres like Surrey, Chilliwack, Vancouver, Kelowna, and Kamloops versus the smaller rural communities spread all throughout rural BC. Obviously, this observation is not lost on the Commission.
When it comes to Princeton, I agree with the Commission’s rationale to include it in Boundary-Similkameen. The latter is also a constituency very similar to Fraser-Nicola, and the people of Princeton and area will still receive “effective representation” within its boundaries.
The N’laka’pamux people are an important part of our constituency and the Southern Interior. Moving Hope back into Fraser-Nicola allows the entire N’laka’pamux Nation to be re-united in one constituency. There is ample evidence across Canada that when communities that share a common trait are put into one electoral district their voter turnout increases dramatically. The boundaries of the traditional N’laka’pamux territory in B.C. are virtually identical to the electoral boundaries of the historic Yale-Lillooet Electoral District.
I believe it would also be in order for the Commission to rename this re-constituted district Yale-Lillooet again. In 2009, this was done for both Surrey-Green Timbers (when it lost its name in the 2007 preliminary report) and for Boundary-Similkameen (after it had lost its name in the 1999 redistribution process).
I laud you for recommending the positive changes for Hope and Princeton in your report.
Sincerely, Donald McLeod (Nicola Valley Medical Centre)